Gros Islet, ST LUCIA, 5 July 2012/ ACP: Top officials attending the Caribbean Community’s Heads of Government Conference this week were invited to contribute to key discussions later in the year on the future of the world’s largest intergovernmental organisation of developing countries, the ACP Group.

Speaking at the high level forum hosted on Gros Islet, Saint Lucia from 4 to 6 July, the Secretary General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas made a special call to leaders to attend the 7th Summit of ACP Heads of States and Governments on 13 and 14 December in Equatorial Guinea. The theme of the event is The Future of the ACP Group in a Changing World: Challenges and Opportunities.

“The ACP comprises 79 member countries [and] with the prospect of the new Republic of South Sudan joining us soon, our membership will rise to eighty. There is potential to build on this numerical strength to promote the collective cause of some of the poorest countries in the world – including vulnerable small island states,” said Dr Chambas.

“As we look to the years ahead, we recognise the need to reinvent the ACP as a meaningful player on the world stage… This summit will be of historic import to the future of the ACP as we seek to consolidate on our achievements while mapping the path to a more viable future.”

The Secretary General outlined geopolitical changes that could affect ACP’s future prospects, including the ongoing effects of the global economic crisis, the changing institutional architecture of Europe, the rise of the emerging economies, globalisation and the pressures of market discipline and competition imposed on national systems. At the same time, he added that new opportunities could also be found in “embracing South South cooperation”, including with emerging economies, as a complement to traditional North-South partnerships.

In addition to development agendas and ongoing trade issues, the December summit will hear from the Ambassadorial Working Group on the Future Perspectives of the ACP Group, chaired by H.E Dr Patrick Gomes of Guyana. The Working Group has been mandated to explore several scenarios and come up with suggestions for repositioning the ACP within the global arena. As part of its efforts a technical study financed by the United Nations Development Programme was recently completed on various future configurations for the institution.

Feasibility studies on two key initiatives – an ACP Free Trade Area (FTA) as well as an ACP Bank for International Trade and Investment (BITI) – are also underway.

“I believe the ACP can be most effective when we set out not to replicate what others are doing but when we concentrate in those niche areas in which we enjoy a high comparative advantage. This requires no less than the reinvention and repositioning of our organisation, revisiting our core mandate, and reforming our principal organs to better serve the interest of our peoples,” stated the Secretary General.

The Secretary General attended the conference following a special invitation from the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community.

– ACP Press